On our recent trip to Queensland, we flew in and out of Brisbane, reason being that we got cheap flights with Jetstar. Upon arrival we hired a car and headed straight down to Surfers Paradise where we had decided a spend a few days. On the way back we had a spare day to spend in Brisbane, so we headed into Southbank and took a Brisbane River Cruise before heading out to the airport.
Strangely enough, I have not spent any time in Brisbane, its not really top of my list for places to go. Brisbane has fantastic weather and plenty of things to do with kids, I’m not sure why I have overlooked it for so long. We generally head out to the beach towns like the Surfers Paradise, Airlie Beach or Port Douglas. It was nice to have the time to have a little look around Brisbane even if it was a only for a short period of time. We drove in and parked close to Southbank, the parking was reasonable for the central city area. We paid $30 and we were parked there for 5 hours.
Unfortunately is was not the best day for exploring, it was raining on and off and at times the rain was heavy. During one of the downpours we decided to drop into a cafe and have a some brunch. There are a lot of different cafes to eat at around Southbank so you will certainly find something you like.
We then walked along the River where they have a free lagoon type swimming area and beach with lifeguard. Its a great use of space and while the weather wasn’t great the day we were there I can see that it would be very popular in the warm weather. I have noticed that a lot of the Queensland cities/towns are starting to do this, there’s one at Airlie Beach and I have been told there is also one in Mackay and Cairns. They’re a great idea and fantastic for people with young kids as its very safe .
We took in the rainforest walk located along South Bank on the Brisbane River. It also has a beautiful oriental themed garden with nice boardwalks to meander about and enjoy the greenery. At one end of the rainforest in a pagoda donated by the people of Nepal for the Expo 1988. I remember Expo 88 but unfortunately never made it up, it was big news all over the country though. Not far from the pagoda is the Wheel of Brisbane (click for more information), we decided not to do it this time as it would have cost us nearly $70 and only lasts 30mins. We have one here in Melbourne and after the first 10 mins the kids got bored. We needed to fill in a couple of hours so decided the Brisbane River Cruise would be a better option and cheaper!
The Brisbane River Cruise runs twice a day at 10.30am and 12.30pm. We jumped on the 12.30pm and we got back to the dock at 2.40pm. The cruise on MV Neptune took off up the river towards Storey Bridge, we took in the view of the city with commentary about the history of all the buildings. There is a coffee shop and licensed bar with some snacks to keep the kids happy. The staff were wonderful, we had an Irish backpacker that was great with the kids. This was great as the kids did get a little bit bored at times.
Craig and I found the commentary very interesting and full of detail and it was surprising to see how high and fully understand the devastation of the 2011 floods, I remember them quite clearly and was surprised it was 5 years ago, time flies. I could also picture things I had seen on the TV at the time. It really is mind boggling when you see where the water is normally and then see just how high it got. Scary!
The top end of the Brisbane River is where the impressive houses are, I could have floated down there all day checking out the houses. The commentary again had great insider information, including who owned which houses and who paid what for some of them. I would personally settle for the little unrenovated one, worth only a few million dollars! There were some dead set mansions there including one that was originally owned by Gina Rhinehart, Australia’s wealthiest lady.
There are also lots of apartments being built along the other side of the river, some of them in newly built buildings and quite a few are renovated heritage listed buildings. In particular the old Wool Stores that have been converted into funky warehouse apartments.
The replacement boardwalks around the river are a great initiative also especially with the great weather they have in Brisbane, it encourages people to get out and about. These where all rebuilt and better built after the 2011 floods. Not only were the damaged ones replaced but they built a lot more. Its a great use of the space and I love the outdoorsy lifestyle encouraged up there.
We really enjoyed the Brisbane River Cruise and we were back at the Southbank Pier just over 2 hours later which was perfect to collect the car and head straight out to the airport and home. It gave us an opportunity to see more in a short period of time. If you don’t have long in Brisbane its a good way to see a bit of the city and a very reasonable price.
While on the Gold Coast we stayed at the Mantra Sun City Resort. We also did a snorkelling day trip to Tangalooma Wreaks off Morton Island and it was amazing. It could easily been done from Brisbane as well.
The Gold Coast is Australia’s theme park mecca, there are so many theme parks that its hard to decided which theme parks are right for you. My tips on which park is best for each age group will help you decide depending on your own kids ages. I have found my kids have enjoyed different theme parks at different times in their lives.
Sal & Co.